Editors' Choice Awards 2001 Page 5
ATC Multichannel Concept 7 Collection surround speaker system
($93,000; reviewed by J. Gordon Holt, October 2000)
The powerful sonic statement made by this speaker system can't be denied. In fact, J. Gordon Holt ran out of superlatives to describe it. He was also impressed enough to put aside his healthy skepticism about products whose prices pierce the strato-sphere. A $93,000 surround system may be a difficult recommendation for many of us to accept, as so few of us can afford to spend even a fraction of that on speakers. But similar prices don't stop car magazines from recommending Ferraris and Lamborghinis, and they won't stop us from awarding top honors to this stunningly engineered system.
Toy Story Collector's Edition: The Ultimate Toy Box
($69.98; Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Disney's computer-animated Toy Story, produced by Pixar, revolutionized full-length animated features, and while traditional animation will live on, the landscape has been changed forever.
Toy Story is a genuinely clever film that appeals equally to kids and open-minded adults. On all counts, Toy Story 2 is even better. And even if the adventures of Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and their supporting cast weren't as compelling and delightful as they are, these films would be land- marks that belong in the collections of all lovers of films and DVDs.
It's hard to know where to begin in describing this amazing 3-disc package, which includes both films, plus hours of supplements. The transfers themselves, culled directly from the digital animation files and produced on enhanced-for-widescreen DVDs, are astonishing. Words are inadequate to describe how vivid and crisp the images look; Toy Story 2, in particular, reminds me of how the film looked when I saw it digitally projected theatrically last year in Los Angeles. And the sound doesn't lag far behind—Toy Story 2 is even presented in Dolby Digital EX. The balance is crisp, the surrounds active, and the bass astonishingly tight and deep—catch the rumble of the elevator in TS2 as Woody's pals head up to rescue him from the evil toy collector.
Beyond the films themselves, this Collector's Edition is absolutely loaded with features, including early Pixar shorts Luxo, Jr., Tin Toy (an Academy Award winner), trailers, a delightful sneak peek at the next Pixar/Disney feature, Monsters, Inc., "making of" material of all descriptions including full commentary tracks, and THX Optimode test patterns. For me, the most fun were the 50 (!) short "bumpers" produced for ABC Saturday-morning cartoon shows. These 10- to 15-second 4:3 spots featuring the Toy Story characters are hilarious, and almost like having a third feature film in the set.
There have been reports of a layer-change problem with some samples of the Toy Story 2 disc, but it is apparently being rectified as I write this. Ours was fine. That tiny caveat aside, I can't imagine a better candidate for DVD set of the year. There are lesser versions available, including a 2-disc set with just the movies plus a few of the features. But if you can manage the $70 price, go for the Platinum with this 3-disc collection. The Ultimate Toy Box is simply astonishing.
($26.99; DreamWorks Home Entertainment. Reviewed by Robert Deutsch, January 2001)
More of our writers named Galaxy Quest as their choice for DVD of the Year than any other title, and we can understand why. (The Ultimate Toy Box came in just at press time, so most of them haven't had a chance to see it yet.) It's a delightful spoof of the Star Trek genre, done in a way that pokes fun at those cult films and TV shows while also somehow warmly elevating them. It's also family-friendly (thanks to some last-minute overdubs, which you can spot in one or two places even if you're not a lip-reader), and one of the funniest films of the past year. The special effects are as good as they need to be, and the cast is perfect across the board.
The transfer is also very good, if just a trace below the best in both sound and picture. It's a good representation of what I saw in the theater, however—in fact, it's better. You won't be disappointed by anything about this film, even if you aren't a fan of the genre. Check out Robert Deutsch's review in this issue's "What's On?," then run, don't walk, to discover Galaxy Quest for yourself, if you haven't already.